April 17, 2008

Saudilogue 36

It’s Thursday morning, (our Saturday). Very high winds have created a sandstorm.
Branches have been blown down so the guys are trying to clean up the increasing mess.
Farouky says that when the sand is this fine and the winds this high, the rains are coming.
Ooooo. Could be fun.

The internet is down again. Since the cables were cut, the internet has been spacy and
often so slow it isn’t worth the trouble.

The new semester has started. Alas, the students continue the group decision that classes
don’t really start until the second week. This gets frustrating.

I enjoyed watching the Dubai Open live. As you know I am a Tiger fan, so watching him
play is wonderful. The sports channels here carry rugby, cricket and soccer. Never have
figured out cricket.

Here, I think some of the censorship has been lifted as more articles are appearing in the
local paper (Arab News) about some of the downsides for women here and about the
harsh tactics taken by the matawa (the religious police). The King has created a ministry
for the rights of women and general civil rights. I believe (personal opinion) that the
censorship has been lifted in these areas as proof of the need for the reforms.

I notice that Saudi is in the news almost daily on CNN for something screwy. Valentines
day was not outlawed in Saudi. Only during the day itself, but flower shops delivered
roses before and after. It’s seen as a day to honor love. Religious conservatives disagree.

Another Thursday – Feb 28.
We’ve had two more sandstorms this week. I took some photos of what looks lilke the
moon, but it is really the sun in the morning.

Well, now it’s March 27. Can you tell I’ve been busy?

There are new garbage containers in Jeddah. Apparently the color of the large dumpsters
is based on the district within the city. Color coded. Our area is purple. The garbagemen
are dress to match the containers. So, they wear lilac colored work jumpsuits. Near the
school the containers are a tealish blue. So, the guys wear light blue. I understand the
local government hired an ad agency to help with the color coding. I’ll try to get photos
for you.

We have been hugely busy after losing some faculty after the first semester. So, we are
teaching six classes and taking one online from Harvard on "learning through
Understanding." It has been quite interesting. I confess I wish I had more time for it. I
had to discontinue Music Club due to a lack of free time on my part.

Hey – got one for you…. Truly. A student told me of another person’s grandfather – a
bedoin who usually lived off in the desert. The man came to Jeddah, tasting food from
various local restaurants. When he came back he wanted to eat again at 88. 88? The
family couldn’t figure out what 88 meant. While driving around the city, the guy said –
there--- 88. McDonalds. You see in Arabic an upside down V is an 8. so the golden
arches looked like 88.

It has been very peaceful here lately. The security guards aren’t as uptight.

The King is really trying to move the country forward. The country is building a new city
– near here. It will have a huge college with co-ed classes. It is not being structured
through the ministry of higher education – they would not allow co-ed classes.

….oh, I bought a video camera so I can capture Saudi on film.

I went to a lecture on tribal truck painting – which came here from Pakistan where it is
done a lot. There are even garages throughout Pakistan where a scratch can be repaired
quickly. No one would want to drive a scratched truck.

Another recent experience came at a local mall. I had an osteoporosis test – the one that
checks ones foot. I was told I was in great shape and have a very low risk of developing
osteoporosis. Well, my doctor just fell of his chair. I have been diagnosised with
pariosteoporosis and been treated for it for years. So,, this means the new med I have
been taking the past two years have rebuilt calcium in my bones or my feet are stronger
than my hip…

at April 17, 2008 1:41 PM